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Kaufland Staff Break Silence On Company’s Shock Exit

Employees of the German retailing giant Kaufland have broken their silence on its shock announcement to exit the Australian market, leaving hundreds in limbo.

Last Wednesday, the retailing giant revealed it would make an ‘orderly withdrawal’ from the Australian market to focus on the more prosperous European market.

It comes as Australia’s market and economy stifles under slow wage growth, increasing costs and high unemployment rates that has seen retailers like EB Games, Harris Scarfe and Bose shut down shops nationwide.

But the decision was an even greater shock as Kaufland had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their Australian expansion – including hiring, property and logistics.

Kaufland’s pull out was made before the company had even opened a single store and has left more than 200 staff nationally without a job, many of whom left positions to take one up with the company.

This includes former Woolworths executive Mark Hwelett and former Myer boss Richard Umbers.

Yet despite the German giants late exit, a number of employees took to professional social media site LinkedIn to laud Kaufland as an ‘amazing’ and ‘incredible’ workplace.

‘I still haven’t been able to put into words what happened… Thank you to everyone at Kaufland Australia for making everyday at work an incredible one’ said one employee.

‘It saddens me when I drive past sites where our stores had begun construction, knowing our dream will never be realised,’ wrote another Kaufland Australia employee.

Supermarket group Kaufland will abort its attempt to enter the Australian market and 200 employees have lost their jobs. (AAP Image/Supplied by Kaufland) 

‘I would like to thank all of the people, both internal and external, that I had the pleasure of working with on this crazy journey, and to congratulate you all for taking this daring step.’

While the company’s employees reiterated the shock that the news had caused to them, which was revealed just hours before a press release was sent out to the media, the public postings show support for the efforts that went into the expansion.

‘It has been an amazing ride. No on in the industry was doing what we were doing, and on such an immense, national scale,’ wrote a legal counsel at Kaufland Australia.

Kaufland Australia Managing Director Julia Kern is seen at the Kaufland sod turn ceremony at Prospect in Adelaide, Wednesday, September 4, 2019. The giant supermarket store Kaufland is building its first store in Prospect, South Australia. (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

‘It is hard to accept it is now all over, moreso given the reasons were beyond our control… There are now two hundred of the best looking for new opportunities. Please keep them in mind.’

The support that fellow employees have shown each other online has seen many pass on job opportunities and offer their support for staff that were laid off.

While the laid off employees received ‘generous’ exit packages, Kaufland also noted the company could offer employment in their European operations.

 

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